Author Archives: From Poverty to Power

Some highlights from the first 30 book launches for How Change Happens

I’m about six weeks into launching How Change Happens, and am having a great (if knackering) time. Highlights so far include a Kurdish/Dutch guitar combo warming up the crowd in Nijmegen, conversations with an Islamic finance entrepreneur trying to do financial inclusion in South Wales, a great group of women managing a community-run service station on the M5 motorway and a network of ‘social leaders’ …

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Is it time to move on from Stats and Numbers to Metaphor and Narrative?

Post Brexit and US elections, I’ve been doing some thinking about how we talk to people. It seems to me that, along with much of the aid and development sector, and quite a few other social change movements, we have been in thrall to the power of numbers and evidence. Everyone is a policy wonk these days. The trouble is, as this year’s political events …

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Overcoming Premature Evaluation

Chris Roche (the koala – I’m the kangaroo, right) is a friend and a brilliant development thinker, even if he has an alarming tendency to be able to reference development jargon like a machine gun. If you can get past the first para, this is well worth your time. There is a growing interest in safe-fail experimentation, failing fast and rapid real time feedback loops.  This …

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Where has the Doing Development Differently movement got to, two years on?

The DDD crew reassembled in London last week, two years on from the Harvard meeting that really got the ball rolling. Unfortunately I could only attend the first session and the next day’s post mortem, so other participants, please feel free to add your own impressions/put me right. DDD is evolving fast into something approaching a big tent movement. At its core are principles of iteration, …

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Fragility v Conflict – can you help with a new 2×2 please?

Struggling towards the finishing line on my paper on empowerment and accountability (E&A) in fragile and conflict- affected settings (FCAS) – thanks to everyone who commented on the first draft, by the way). It’s nearly there but I need your help with one particular section. I want to argue that lumping ‘fragile’ and ‘conflict’ together in one category is very unhelpful. In reality, many violent …

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It’s International Men’s Day tomorrow – here’s why it’s a bad idea

Tomorrow is International Men’s Day, but Gary Barker isn’t celebrating I’m sure it was well-intentioned when International Men’s Day began over a decade ago. The day, in part, aims to draw attention to men’s and boy’s health; this year’s theme is “Stop Male Suicide”. This is a worthy goal: men die earlier and are more likely to face chronic illness and less likely to care …

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How can the international community help put women at the heart of bringing peace to South…

Oxfam’s Shaheen Chughtai reports back from a recent conversation at the UN Once in a while, the shroud of coded, diplomatic language that envelops discussions at the United Nations Security Council is ripped away by reality. On 25th October, it was the words of a women’s rights activist from conflict-ridden South Sudan, Rita Lopidia, which gripped the chamber. “I meet many South Sudanese women, and …

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Only (re)Connect. The US elections, How Change Happens and where do we go from here?

This is just me indulging in a little personal therapy as I come to terms with this week’s political earthquake. If you want the official Oxfam response, you’ll have to wait (should be out before the 2020 elections). So this is just me. Is that clear? Good.

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Climate Change: Meeting sea level rise by raising the land

; As the COP 22 meeting on climate change gets under way in Marrakech, Joseph Hanlon, Manoj Roy and David Hulme introduce their new book on climate change and Bangladesh Community groups in coastal Bangladesh have shown that the land can be raised to match sea level rise. Their success has been hard fought, initially contested by aid agencies, engineers and the police. But they …

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Campaigning for Change: Lessons of History. Top new book, free to download

I’ve blogged a couple of times on a fascinating project run by Friends of the Earth and the History and Policy network to bring historians of past campaigns and modern day campaigners together to discuss the lessons of history. The resulting 174 page book is now out and I highly recommend it. The discussion was part of FoE’s Big Ideas Change the World project (why …

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Big new research programme on empowerment and accountability in fragile settings gets under way…

Whatever happened to resting on your laurels?  The book’s just published, and I’m onto the next thing – a five year research consortium on empowerment and accountability in fragile and conflict settings (FCS). Spent 3 days recently with some sharp minds from an alphabet soup of project partners – IDS, ITAD, IDEAS, CSSR, PASGR and ARC, wading through a stack of initial analyses, including my …

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On World Food Day, 5 reasons why cash transfers aren’t always the best option

Since the Asian Tsunami of 2004, providing cash to people in an emergency has become increasingly mainstream. But (babies, bath water) there is more to food response than ‘just give them the money.’ On World Food Day, Oxfam Social Protection Adviser Larissa Pelham sets out the case: The King asked The Queen, and The Queen asked The Dairymaid: “Could we have some butter for The …

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Sen, Fukuyama, Chambers, Byanyima, Agarwal, Rodrik, Kumar and Robinson on How Change Happens

A week to go til the official How Change Happens publication day (a pretty artificial date, but apparently it helps with chasing up reviews), so time for another book-related post. One of the most heart-warming experiences for any author is when you send off your manuscript to a sprinkling of the great and good, and to your delight and astonishment, some of them send back a …

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How can we make Disasters Dull? Book review

Oxfam Senior Humanitarian Policy Adviser Debbie Hillier can barely contain her excitement – today is International Day for Disaster Reduction. To celebrate, she reviews a new book on the issue While policy frameworks on Disaster Risk Reduction have proliferated – the SDGs, the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework – the practicality remains elusive. This is the issue addressed by Dull Disasters? How Planning ahead will make a …

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